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Wallace Presses ‘1619 Project’ Author Over Wild Claims: ‘Where Is Your Evidence?’

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Former Fox News host Chris Wallace, now hosting a program on CNN’s new streaming service, CNN+, ripped Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator of the “The 1619 Project,” over a claim she made about World War II-era America, known colloquially as “The Greatest Generation.”

The conversation began pleasantly enough before the “Who’s Talking To Chris Wallace” host veered into Hannah-Jones’ belief that Americans then continued suppressing blacks including those who has served in the war.

“‘Without the idealistic, strenuous, and patriotic efforts of black Americans, our democracy today would most likely look very different. It might not be a democracy at all. We like to call those who lived during World War II the Greatest Generation, but that allows us to ignore the fact that many of this generation fought for democracy abroad, while brutally suppressing democracy for millions of American citizens,’” Wallace said, quoting Hannah-Jones’ work.

“Again, I am in no way minimizing our terrible racial legacy. But in some of these things, aren’t you overstating?” he asked.

“If you have half of the country, where it’s in some states majorities, in many other states pluralities, 25 percent of the population, 40 percent of the population cannot vote, have their vote violently suppressed, where they’re a single one-party, one-race rule in a region where about 30 percent of the population is black… Would you consider that democracy?” Hannah-Jones asked, flipping the question back on the host, according to The Daily Wire.

At that, Wallace pushed back somewhat, noting a time in U.S. history when women also did not have the right to vote, with Hannah-Jones responding that wasn’t “democracy” as well.

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“But here’s where I take some objection. You’re talking about if you say the country that we were fighting for democracy overseas, and we were not living in, walking the walk, talking the talk at home, I completely agree with you,” Wallace continued.

“But you specifically say the Greatest Generation brutally suppressing, many of this generation brutally suppressing democracy for millions of Americans. To me, and I think Tom Brokaw when he originally wrote the book, ‘The Greatest Generation,’ was talking about 20-year-olds, 30-year-olds who came out of the farm fields of the Midwest, who came out of ethnic neighborhoods in Brooklyn and South Philly and stormed the beaches of Normandy and, and, you know, fought to defeat the most, the worst regime, I would argue in, in world history,” he continued. “And to say that they were 20, 30-year-olds, the country was brutally suppressing blacks, but the Greatest Generation wasn’t.”

“Well, they were,” Hannah-Jones insisted.

“No, they weren’t, you’re telling me that a farm, that a kid coming off a farm in Indiana or a kid who came from Brooklyn, is was suppressing black people,” Wallace responded.

“So Indiana had the largest population of the Klan in the United States. The Klan was reached first in Indiana,” Hannah-Jones argued, as though that was in and of itself proof of her claim.

“I understand, but that wasn’t the 20-year-old kid who risked his life,” Wallace pressed again before Hannah-Jones interrupted: “You don’t think 20-year olds were in the Klan?”

“I didn’t think many of them were, no,” Wallace said.

“I mean, I don’t know what evidence you have of that,” Hannah-Jones claimed.

But Wallace shot back: “Well, what evidence do you have that they were, since you wrote it?”

The author went on to say that she never claimed 20-year-olds were in the Klan, but Wallace persisted: “You said many of this generation was brutally suppressing democracy for millions of Americans.”

“And that’s factually inaccurate how?” Hannah-Jones pressed.

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“I’m just asking,” Wallace continued. “That’s a broad, a broad brush, that you’re willing to paint, the 20- and 30-year-olds who defended democracy, I’m not talking about the leaders. I’m not talking about the laws. I’m not talking about the country. I’m talking about the young people who risked their lives. For instance, on the beaches of Normandy, they were brutally suppressing African Americans.”

At that, Hannah-Jones said that it was not fair to say that “the government was violently suppressing but everyone else, they weren’t. They were glorious.”

She also said that during World War II, the U.S. military was still segregated.

“This trying to parse off who gets guilt or who does not for our collective history — we have to be more honest about piercing that mythology not to destroy our country, but to, if we can honestly face who we are, then we can actually become the country that we want to be. But we can’t do that by suppressing the truth and to ask a black person whose view of the Greatest Generation was black people are getting lynched,” she said.

For the record, Democratic President Harry S. Truman signed an executive order in 1948 ordering the U.S. military desegregated, but was “feebly enforced,” according to History.net. His predecessor, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, World War II’s Supreme Allied Commander, fully enforced it while also desegregating Washington, D.C., as well as the Veteran’s Administration and all military bases in the Deep South.

He went on to propose, fight for, and eventually sign the Civil Rights Act of 1957; portions of the legislation were opposed by future Democratic president — then a U.S. Senator — Lyndon B. Johnson.

History.net added: “The legislation established the Civil Rights Commission and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, which have publicized and prosecuted civil rights violations ever since. Eisenhower had broken the Southern stranglehold on civil rights legislation and, with passage of a voting rights act in 1960, set the stage for the groundbreaking legislation of 1964-65.”

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